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Group calls for 'Mother's Day Cease Fire Weekend'

Debra Overbey calls the Baltimore homicide unit every Aug. 14 — the anniversary of her son's death — to see if there are any developments in the case.

Andre Adams Jr., 24, was shot outside Q's Bar in the 2500 block of E. Monument St. in 2004. Each year since, Overbey said, she calls, is put on hold, and briefly holds out hope for an update. But then a detective comes on the line to tell her the case remains cold.

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"They're really not looking, and there's nothing I can do about it," she said.

On Saturday, she was one of about 60 people who gathered at the corner of North Avenue and Broadway for a Mother's Day weekend peace walk held by the group Mothers of Murdered Sons.

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This year, the group held its first "Mother's Day Cease Fire Weekend," an attempt to quell the violence, if only through the holiday.

Baltimore has recorded 125 homicides this year, a more than 30 percent increase from the same time last year.

"Enough is enough. We have a whole city that has been affected and traumatized," said Daphne Alston, founder of the group.

Alston, who lives in Harford County, started Mothers of Murdered Sons after her 22-year-old son, Tariq Alston, was killed July 14, 2008.

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She said she can still recall the night of his death. She got a call from his friends, who told her Tariq had been shot. Alston said her son was taken to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, where he was pronounced dead.

She said prosecutors have told her that while there may be enough evidence for an arrest, they do not feel there is enough for a conviction.

"Some days you want to scream in your car," Alston said. "You pinch yourself and say, 'Is this real?' We don't want other moms to experience this."

Though Saturday's event brought up painful memories for the participants, the atmosphere was almost festive, as pop music blared over a loudspeaker, prompting some in the crowd to dance.

Many of the woman and men who came to the rally wore white, a color of peace. Some women wore white sashes bearing the word "Mom" and held white balloons.

Sandy Johnson, another organizer of the event, said "we want to let these women, these families know they aren't alone," she said.

Johnson and Alston spoke briefly to the crowd, along with Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant.

Mosby, who wore an "I love Bmore" baseball cap, told the crowd that "these aren't just numbers, those are our babies." But, she added, "you all have so much power" to make a difference and stop the violence.

Police made an arrest in the death of Overbey's son about two months after his shooting, but court records show the case was dropped the following March. She said she was told that police had the wrong person.

The homicide detective assigned to the case has since retired.

Overbey said she is still frustrated, not only because her son's killer has not been found but because she didn't get to say goodbye to him.

He was killed early on a Saturday, and Overbey said she did not learn of his death until 6 p.m. the following day. She said she doesn't understand why she wasn't notified sooner. She said her son had borrowed her car, which contained her work identification card and other items bearing her name.

"I could have had the chance to say goodbye to my son. I felt the police department felt he was just another black man killed," she said.

Adams had racked up several charges for drugs and other offenses. He was charged with attempted first-degree murder in 2002, but the case was dropped, court records show.

Overbey said her son wasn't living with her when he was killed, and that he was "out in the streets. That still don't justify a person taking his life. He wasn't a bad person."

Nearly a decade after her son's death, the pain still feels fresh.

"No, it doesn't get easier. It gets lighter," she said.

twitter.com/janders5

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